— Brian Lieber (@brianlieb14) August 7, 2014
Thornton spoke to Dan Martin of the New York Post about being placed on waivers by the Yankees and the Nationals picking him up:
“I was caught off guard, big time,” said Thornton, who went to the Nationals after they made a waiver claim on the left-hander in what amounted to a cost-saving move for the Yankees.
“Being the Yankees, generally when they’re in contention, they’re moving pieces around, but not looking at money,” Thornton said. “Maybe I overvalued myself. I thought I was an important part of the bullpen and important piece to the team that was trying to fight for a playoff spot.”
“When your pitching staff has been so dismantled by injuries and you’re waiting for the right time to make moves, like with [Michael] Pineda, these things happen,” Thornton said. “But the reasoning was unexpected.
Thornton would be right.
It is unusual for the Yankees to be dumping valuable pieces on their roster while in the hunt for playoffs—especially for financial reasons. After all, Thornton was by far the best lefty out of the Yanks' impressive bullpen this season as he pitched to a 2.55 ERA before moving to the Nationals.
However the Yanks went the opposite way and decided Thornton was expendable for cost-cutting measures. Whether that works out to be a smart move remains to be seen, but the Yanks do have some solid left-handers in the minors they could go to as September approaches, and Thornton knew that:
“Supposedly, they have a couple of lefties throwing the ball well in the minor leagues that haven’t gotten there yet who can fill in just fine.”
Names such as 2014 second-round pick Jacob Lindgren, top prospect Manny Banuelos and Tyler Webb have been thrown around. General manager Brian Cashman even said he wouldn't rule out calling up those guys.
So the Yankees clearly figured they could do without Thornton in what still amounts to a risky move. To have a near sure thing in Thornton—who has been doing his job very well—and let him walk in favor of the kids is pretty bold and shows faith in the youngsters.
Despite the rarity of being cut by a team with a payroll north of $200 million, Thornton has moved on and is ready to help out in Washington, which is a team that leads the National League East by five games at the moment:
“It changes who you’re trying to help, but I’m loyal to whatever uniform I’m wearing,” said Thornton, who entered Tuesday’s game against the Mets having pitched 2 ²/? inning in three games. “Once I left the clubhouse in New York, it was done and I moved on.”
Thornton has mad three appearances for Washington so far and has not allowed a run in 2.2 innings pitched.
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